How I Overcame Postpartum and Clinical Depression.
The pediatrician looked at me with concern in her eyes and I could tell she knew something wasn’t right.
But, for whatever reason, she told me everything was fine with my daughter and sent me on my way.
I rationalized that her being a pediatrician didn’t necessarily mean she knew what was going on with me. That her not pointing out the obvious lack of enthusiasm I had towards my daughter wasn’t a big deal. I thought about going to see my regular doctor, but I couldn’t bring myself to a place where I could ask for help. At that point, 2 weeks later after giving birth, and still feeling like I really don’t like being a mother I thought maybe it was my circumstances. My daughter’s father and I, although very much in love, had a toxic relationship. The verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse got worse and worse each day. We had almost no family around, aside from his mother, and I was 19 years old, an accomplished young musician going to college, that left it all behind to begin my family.
Everyone didn’t agree with my choice and certainly made it known they didn’t. I dealt with a lot of negativity all because, essentially, I didn’t do what people thought I should do. I suffered. The amount of backlash I received, one would have thought I committed a crime. In reality, I was just a young adult and, yes, not making a good decision, but nevertheless my decision.
There are far more details. From a having an emergency c-section( my placenta abrupted and I had multiple blood transfusions. I couldn’t even see my daughter the first 24 hours I was in such bad shape) to sleeping on the floor when I was finally able to come home. We were waiting for money to purchase furniture and the air mattress we had got a hole in it…again there is much more, but I’ll leave it at that for now. But even with all of that going on I knew deep down inside I did not like being a mother. I had little to no bond with my daughter. It felt foreign that I even had a child and I was supposed to parent it.
I was lost and really began to lose more and more control…
My daughter was about a month old and I decided I had enough. I never got any sleep, I was anxious all the time about being a mother, and I really had begun resenting my daughter. It was never her fault…but in my unstable and traumatized mind I couldn’t think differently. Not to mention my circumstances were still really awful. We had jobs, but were barely making ends meet and again it was a toxic relationship.
I remember one night that was it for me. My daughter’s father who was an alcoholic went upstairs to go to bed and I was left with my daughter, who was sleeping in her bassinet, in the living room. I sat on the couch and thought to myself “This isn’t worth it anymore.” I got half a pint of liquor from the kitchen and poured the remaining Oxycontin, (I think 3 or 4) I had from my prescription into my hand and went and sat back on the couch.
I took it all.
I remember the next day like a video. It’s still clear in my mind. I woke up and saw Maury playing on the television and the smells of breakfast were coming from the kitchen as my daughter’s father loved to cook. My daughter was in her bassinet playing with a toy.
I remember saying to myself ” Why am I still here?” I was so angry. I can still feel how angry I was that I didn’t die. I was at the lowest point of my life and believed nothing could pull me out of this depression or situation I was in. I was still laying down on the couch from waking up, vision slightly blurry, and my gaze slowly landed on the corner of the living room.
In that corner was my oboe and a thought came to mind that said ” It’s not over.”
Even though I didn’t know God’s voice at the time and no where close to being saved…now looking back I’m pretty sure what was thought to me was God’s voice letting me know He was not going to let me go out like that. I wasn’t thankful than, but man…how I am so thankful now!
I got up, checked on my daughter, and somehow managed to start another day.
I never said a word about what I did.
Years passed and I was still battling depression often. There were days where I would wake up and immediately start to cry and cry for the whole day or days. I felt like there was no way I could get out of this deep sadness. It’s like a heavy fog that just won’t lift, a heavy cloud that never seems to go away. There were days where I would call out of work or not go to school because I couldn’t find the energy to even get out of bed. Sleeping pills became an addiction (and eventually alcohol), because I desperately wanted to escape my life. And this wasn’t just a day this was sometimes months at a time. And guess what? I was working a full-time job, in the midst of completing my 1st degree, still taking care of my children (with a lot of help) and participating in the church by being a leader over the music ministry.
Success, productivity, busyness will not fill the void of depression. I was still highly functioning while in depression. Depression is not necessarily a circumstantial issue. One can be in depression and have no idea why…this is often how I felt.
Even after having my son (almost 5 years later) and taking every precaution I could to not repeat what happened with my daughter (taking anti-depressants, having a better support system, a church family, and making it urgent that I needed all the help I could get) I was still having a really hard time being a mother and the depression was not getting any better. I decided to not have anymore children as I was thankful for my boy and girl…but I had to deal with this depression…something had to give.
After going through a couple of years of counseling, I started realizing a lot of my triggers and why I felt the way I felt was from childhood experiences! I think whether I had children or not or even had not went through some of the traumatic things I had experienced in adulthood it was more than likely depression was still going to happen! I had issues of perfectionism, rejection, guilt, torment…I had alot more issues than I thought, but because I was gifted and accomplishing many things it was easy to put up a smokescreen.
Nevertheless, I can fortunately say the last time I had a bout of depression was probably 9 months ago. So is the title misleading? No, not at all. The reason I say overcame because I know my triggers. I know when a bout of depression is coming on and what to do to prevent it. And if I so happen to go through another bout of depression I know how to navigate my way through it. Would I like to be completely cured? Absolutely. Am I believing that I will be cured from it? A wholehearted yes. I believe anything is possible with God. But for now I will do the things I know to do and believe in the day for my complete freedom from ever having to deal with depression again.
What have I learned from dealing with depression? There is hope, but you have to dig really deep. It is probably the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. But every time I am able to overcome another bout of depression the next time gets a little easier. Here are some helpful tips:
- Don’t be embarrassed or shame to get help! We are ALL going through something. I asked for help before and after giving birth to my son. And I asked over and over again until it happened. I didn’t care if I looked strange…I cared more about my life! Even now if I feel myself losing control I will make it very known and people who care do not think any differently of me. Please know someone cares! Even if you have to go through 10 people the 11th one will care! If you don’t have health insurance there are facilities in your local area that can help you at little to no charge. I have personally been to them.
- Antidepressants, counseling, group therapy…use them! I have done all of them, although I don’t encourage long-term use of anti-depressants based off of my own research. But! Do whatever it takes to get you to a place where you can make rational and sound decisions! And counseling and group therapy are wonderful. I still use both of these methods even when I’m not depressed. You need to talk to someone!
- Find a church home or a group with same interests. There is a great likeliness that you will not be successful in managing your depression alone. You need other people. Even if they don’t understand they care! Almost 85% of the people surrounding me didn’t understand or didn’t know how to help me, but they helped me in the ways that they could! That is better than nothing!
- Go outside. Go for a walk, go to the gym, go for a drive, but whatever you do, do not stay inside dig deep and find the energy to do something. Your mind will get the best of you and worsen your depression.
- Take your time getting healed. After 10 years of dealing with depression only in the last 5 years have I made significant progress in understanding and managing depression. There are many things you will have to process in order for you to understand what is going on with you. Not to mention as you get older mindsets begin to shift and hopefully what once use to trigger depression for you won’t anymore or you will be able to understand your triggers.
- You cannot pray depression away! That doesn’t mean not to pray to God to help you because praying does help! But, I have been saved for 10 years. I have been depressed the majority of those 10 years and I will firmly say God is a good God and wants the best for me! I don’t know why God doesn’t just make it disappear. There could be many reasons for it that I will never understand. And as I said earlier each time I overcome a bout of depression it really does get easier and better. I’m sure there are people out there where He cured them of depression instantly and I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe for it. But if it was that simple…there would be no need for me to have written this post. Statistics are obviously telling a very different story. You have to do something about the depression…or the depression will have you.
There is a lot of help out there and if you can’t find it please message me here or any of my social media. Please go get help. People do love you…more than you think! Most importantly, God loves you! He does! I shouldn’t be alive. I don’t have authority over life, God does…that in itself goes to show how much He cares! It wasn’t luck! It was His grace and mercy!
It will get better…I am a living witness. Go get help now!